Infrastructure and Built-Environment Solutions


Dr Liam Wotherspoon

Programme Co-Leader

The University of Auckland


Prof Brendon Bradley

Programme Co-Leader

The University of Canterbury




Historically, the resilience of New Zealand’s built environment to natural hazards has focused on the robustness of individual physical assets like individual buildings and bridges etc. There has been less emphasis on understanding the dependencies between individual assets, or on the performance of spatially-distributed infrastructure networks. The resilience of lifeline networks like electricity, transportation and water is critical in enabling society to recover rapidly after a major disaster. The Infrastructure and Built-Environment Solutions programme is developing tools to assess the performance of spatially-distributed infrastructure networks subject to extreme natural hazards.

Working closely with relevant stakeholders, the programme is developing methodologies to quantify system-level performance of infrastructure networks when subject to natural hazards and cascading impacts, leading to improved resilience of communities through identification of multi-hazard related vulnerabilities in infrastructure critical for NZ society.


Feature: The 2010-2011 Canterbury Earthquake Sequence – a legacy of research collaboration

Canterbury quakes research has resulted in enduring relationships between our researchers and a range of stakeholder organizations.

Read more >





Networks and Components

Developing risk-based methodologies to quantify the direct damage and resilience of large distributed infrastructure networks to multiple types of natural hazards. 

Project lead: Prof Brendon Bradley and Dr Liam Wotherspoon

Host: University of Canterbury and The University of Auckland


Network Interdependencies

Advancing risk-based methodologies of infrastructure networks from simply understanding the loss of service due to damage to network components onto understanding the cascading impacts which result from network service disruption, and ultimately impact societal resilience.

Project lead: Prof Brendon Bradley and Dr Liam Wotherspoon

Host: University of Canterbury and The University of Auckland


Performance Measures and Impacts

Developing a ‘National report card’ framework and an ‘infrastructure resilience rating’ by which distributed infrastructure network resilience can be understood by the general public in order to lead to societally-driven and public policy improvements in resilience.

Project lead: Prof Brendon Bradley and Dr Liam Wotherspoon

Host: University of Canterbury and The University of Auckland


Electricity Distribution Resilience Framework

This project, funded from the Challenge’s contestable funding process in 2017, is developing a novel electricity resilience framework, along with a realistic micro-grid restoration solution enabled through communication lifelines, following a significant Alpine Fault earthquake.

Project lead: Prof Nirmal Nair

Host: The University of Auckland


Feature: How do different infrastructure networks influence one another following a natural hazard event?

We rely on infrastructure networks to provide us with essential services like electricity, water and transportation, and many of these things rely on each other to function. So what happens when a natural hazard event like an earthquake causes damage to some of our critical infrastructure?

In order to understand what essential services will be available after an event, we need to know how infrastructure networks influence one another.

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Key Achievements


Kaikōura earthquake

Ministry of Transport funded project: “An evaluation and lessons learned from responses to the Kaikōura earthquake.” (20 Nov 2017 – 1 Jun 2018)


Post Doctoral Position

University of Auckland funded Faculty of Engineering grant for (1 Feb 2018-31 Dec 2019) to support post-doctoral position. “Resilience of Infrastructure Networks following Natural Hazard Events: Novel System of Systems Framework”.


Forum presentation

National Lifelines Forum invited presentation “Distributed Infrastructure Network Research“ Liam Wotherspoon, 31 Oct-1 Nov, Auckland.


Tsunami loading

PIANC NZ Workshop invited presentation “Tsunami loading on Coastal Structures“ Liam Wotherspoon, 8 Nov, Napier.

Feature: Student profile

Xavier Bellagamba

Xavier is a keen rock-climber, tramper, skier and one of the PhD students in our Infrastructure team.

Originally from Switzerland, Xavier has a background in Civil Engineering. His current work involves exploring the resilience of our urban water supply systems to earthquakes, using data collected from the Canterbury quakes.

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Thesis Research Students

Xavier Bellagamba (PhD at University of Canterbury) –  Resilience of underground lifelines: Potable Water.

Mohammad Aghababaei (PhD at The University of Auckland) Operational Resilience Assessment of a Rural Road Network.

Nariman Valizadeh (PhD at The University of Auckland) Technical Resilience of Stormwater Management Systems.

Duncan Maina (PhD at The University of Auckland) Effective Restoration Practices following extreme natural hazards.

Samad Shirzadi Deh Kohneh (PhD at The University of Auckland) A Framework for Islanded Microgrid Operation after Hazard Events.

Yasir Imtiaz Syed (PhD at Massey University) ‘End to end’ linkage structure for integrated impact assessment of infrastructure networks under natural hazards.

Ebad Rahman (PhD at The University of Auckland) Characterising long-term ground deformation impacts on the buried high voltage electricity network.

Snehalata Thakur (PhD at The University of Auckland) Evacuation and travel behaviour in Auckland.

Marcus Rodger (Master’s at University of Canterbury) Stopbanks in New Zealand: creation and analysis of a geospatial inventory.

Daniel Jones (Master’s at University of Canterbury) Integrating Geographic Information Systems and Building Information Modeling to Characterise Urban Resilience.

Thomas Wallace (Master’s at University of Canterbury)Assessing the impact of undocumented stopbanks on flood routing and catchment performance.

Farrukh Latif (Master’s at The University of Auckland) Technical resilience of telecommunication networks.

Affiliated with other Resilience Challenge programmes

Damon McKibben (Master’s at University of Canterbury) Critical infrastructure impacts and adaptations in small towns following earthquakes (Rural programme).

Mat Darling (PhD at the University of Canterbury) – Modelling transient populations for disaster risk and resilience assessment (Rural programme).

Mujaddad Afzal (PhD at The University of Auckland) Mass Evacuation of Cities under Impending Natural Hazards (Urban programme).


Feature: Can we evacuate Auckland before a volcano erupts?

It is only a matter of time before another volcano erupts in Auckland’s Volcanic Field. With this in mind, researchers in our Infrastructure team are investigating how drivers behave in an emergency, and creating a simulation model of Auckland’s transport network to determine whether we could evacuate the city. 

Read more >

Selected publications


Davies AJ, Sadashiva V, Aghababaei M, Barnhill D, Costello SB, Fanslow B, Headifen D, Hughes M, Kotze R, Mackie J, Ranjitkar P, Thompson J, Troitino DR, Wilson T, Woods S and Wotherspoon LM (2017). “Transport infrastructures performance and management in the South Island of New Zealand during the first 100 days following the 2016 Mw7.8 Kaikōura earthquake”. Bulletin of the New Zealand Society for Earthquake Engineering, 50(2): 271-299. (In collaboration with Rural and Mātauranga Māori)

Hughes MW, Nayyerloo M, Bellagamba X, Morris J, Brabhaharan P, Rooney S, Hobbs E, Wooley K and Hutchison S (2017). “Impacts of the 14th November 2016 Kaikōura earthquake on three waters systems in Wellington, Marlborough and Kaikōura, New Zealand: Preliminary observations”. Bulletin of the New Zealand Society for Earthquake Engineering, 50(2): 306-317

Giovinazzi S, Austin A, Ruiter R, Foster C, Nayyerloo M, Nair N and Wotherspoon L (2017). “Resilience and fragility of the telecommunication network to seismic events: evidence after the Kaikōura (New Zealand) earthquake”. Bulletin of the New Zealand Society for Earthquake Engineering, 50(2): 318-328

Trotter, Stevenson, Ivory, Blake, Wotherspoon (2017) “An evaluation and lessons learned from responses to the Kaikōura earthquake: Workshop Summary Report”, Ministry of Transportation Report

Woods RJ, McBride SK, Wotherspoon LM, Beavan S, Potter SH, Johnston DM, Wilson TM, Brunsdon D, Grace ES, Brackley H and Becker JS (2017). “Science to emergency management response: Kaikōura earthquakes 2016”. Bulletin of the New Zealand Society for Earthquake Engineering, 50(2): 329-337 (In collaboration with Rural and Culture programmes)

Yang L, ; Nirmal-Kumar N, Renton A, Wilson S (2017) “Impact of the Kaikōura earthquake on the electrical power system infrastructure”. Bulletin of the New Zealand Society for Earthquake Engineering 50(2):300-305



 Infrastructure programme details